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Do tourists upset tigers? and Is tourism bad for the wildlife?

wildlife vs tourism

There are many in the media and uninformed NGOs that will be negative about tourism. My/our experience and knowledge gained over more than a decade of travelling in the wilds of India, is completely to the contrary. Of course, there are the few who will abuse any tried and trusted system, and sometimes poor behaviour is evident in the national parks

There are good charities and some touring companies, viz. Nature Safari India, who provide funding to train the park guides and drivers. These good people from surrounding villages have simple backgrounds but have immense knowledge of the flora and fauna.

Sometimes they try too hard to please the overzealous tourists who are desperate to see a tiger for the first time. We understand the feeling well, but the welfare of the tiger has to come first.

In Bandhavgarh, on one of our first trips, we were climbing up a rough track, quite narrow, with an escarpment to one side and the forest to our right. We were disappointed to see 5 or 6 jeeps crowding together, parked with a lot of chattering and noise. No tigers obviously. However our guide, the wonderful Jagat, said there had been a sighting, and maybe we had arrived too late.

But, why were they all still there? We all looked through our binos into the scrub and trees to see if the big cat had retreated to find cover. Then, someone started to point downwards, very close to us,  3 or 4 metres from the side of the track. There he was laying in the long grass, fast asleep, probably the biggest male tiger we have ever seen. I swear he was over 3 metres long, nose to tail. Wow !!

wildlife vs tourism-tiger-safari

But, why was he still there? He simply could have got up and walked back into the forest; given 10-20 metres, he would have disappeared completely. No, the reason is simple; he was not upset by us. In fact, like all cats, he was quite at ease with us. He probably had a range of 50 sq. miles but chose to lay by the side of the road next to us noisy humans. We had to remind ourselves that cats are quite inquisitive by nature; they will often come to inspect you …. even the very large ones!

Tigers upset by tourists? I think not!

Graham & Mary Brace

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